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Customs Minister Addresses Industrial Hemp Meeting

Hon Phillida Bunkle
Minister of Customs
Associate Minister of Economic Development

Media release
22 March 2000

Customs Minister Addresses Industrial Hemp Meeting

Customs Minister Hon Phillida Bunkle tonight reaffirmed her support for a working party on industrial hemp.

The Minister addressed about 70 people at a public meeting on industrial hemp in Motueka tonight. She said the recommendations of the inter-agency working party, led by Health officials, could not be pre-empted.

"However, in my other role as Associate Minister of Economic Development, there may be an opportunity for development of this industry. I believe it worth investigating the economic benefits the hemp industry might have for New Zealand.

"We already have sensible ways of dealing with alcohol and tobacco. Customs officials have advised me that the mechanisms for controlling hemp production already exist under the Customs and Excise Act.

"Given the framework that already exists within the Act, and the experience of Customs staff in controlling tobacco and alcohol, there may well be room for evidence-based trial crops of industrial hemp."

The Minister reminded the meeting that there were wider, serious community concerns that would need to be addressed. It was also important to evaluate information from overseas, she said. Industrial hemp is already grown successfully under controls, across the world.

"Trials may provide the best source of identifying issues for the community," she said.

"I am all for any considering any kind of economic development. Hemp does have properties that are beneficial to economic development - it is the strongest natural fibre, is resound insulating and resistant to UV light.

"While I believe the economic benefits of the hemp industry should be investigated, it is important this does not draw attention away from the issues being considered by the working party.


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